The penalties for compliance missteps have never been higher — particularly in the international regulatory context. As the record-setting penalties against BNP Paribas (nearly $9 billion in penalties for violations of economic sanctions and anti-money laundering laws) in 2014 amply illustrates, the criminal and civil penalties for violations of U.S. law have never been higher.

The stakes are especially high for companies in the automotive space. The U.S. government, and the European Union, have been engaged in extensive investigations of violations of antitrust and fair competition laws for years, resulting in significant investigation costs and regulatory fine exposure. But even beyond these areas, economic sanctions laws administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the anti-bribery and books and records provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the restrictions on exports posed by the Export Administration Regulations and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, and other laws administered extraterritorially mean that multinational automotive-sector companies need to be especially vigilant regarding compliance across their entire corporate footprint. Even the actions of third parties, such as consultants and agents, can result in liability under these laws.